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Posted: 7/1/2012 5:24:55 AM EDT
While visiting in East TN, I made a little sidetrip. History & all that, eh?



Entry road leading up to the main & ONLY gate in & out.

Link Posted: 7/1/2012 5:46:09 AM EDT
Here you can see some of the original outbuildings. I was told that at one time the prison was pretty much self-supported, i.e. grew their own food, had their own wells, etc. Most of the prisoners worked for the nearby coal mines until that practice was stopped in the 1970s. Perhaps David Lewis can shed some light on the history?





As you can see, the prison is pretty much shoved back into a corner of the mountains. When James Earl Ray escaped for a few hrs while kept there, he obviously didn't have much chance for a quick get away, IMO.



Oddly enough, the State of TN doesn't own the property the prison sits upon. Since they opened the new one down the road & closed Brushy Mtn in 2009, it sits empty & unused. The prison dept tried to give it over to the parks dept but they refused it. I would imagine it would cost a small fortune to make it over due to having to tear down the out bldgs & remove asbestos, etc.

The CO that spoke to us at the gate said the Ayers (or some such) family owned the actual property the prison sits upon. I looked down at this name tag & lo & behold, he had the same name. Yep, it was his family that owned the property! He said the state keeps a guard (one) on the property 7/24/365. Keeps people like me away from the main bldg, no doubt................    
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 6:14:29 AM EDT
State closed it because it was the only prison in the State that had a UNION and only had (allowed in the county) ONE black employee.  This was also the oldest Prison in the State.  The scene showing 'Hannible Lechter' in Silence of the Lambs was based on a cell block here.  While there have been escapes from the Prison itself, NO inmate has ever made it out of the county.  When the escape siren went off everybody in the county showed up with their guns and dogs and had a great time on the 'hunt'.  Some of the employees there were third and in a couple of instances fourth generation Prison employees.  Thing is this prison was the main employer for the county and just about everybody in the county worked there or had a relative that did.

When I was the training officer at the old DeBarry I had to go there a few times.  Not a pleasant place to go even as staff.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 6:42:14 AM EDT
Originally Posted By TnHawk-45:

While there have been escapes from the Prison itself, NO inmate has ever made it out of the county.  When the escape siren went off everybody in the county showed up with their guns and dogs and had a great time on the 'hunt'.  


I've heard but cannot confirm that there was/is a $500 bounty for a local capturing an escaped convict. True or not?  
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 6:49:11 AM EDT
I can't imagine how lonely that guard job is
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 7:30:52 AM EDT
Troublemakers went there, right? That douche Paul Reid was sent there from Death Row because he was acting up.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 7:50:40 AM EDT
I want it!  Would make a great training facility/airsoft park/paintball park.  Bar and Grill for refeshments with scantilly clad "guards" as servers.  Imagine the possibilities.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 2:58:57 PM EDT
Originally Posted By urikagold:
I want it!  Would make a great training facility/airsoft park/paintball park.  Bar and Grill for refeshments with scantilly clad "guards" as servers.  Imagine the possibilities.


I like how you think.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 3:35:13 PM EDT
Originally Posted By crawlin95:
Originally Posted By urikagold:
I want it!  Would make a great training facility/airsoft park/paintball park.  Bar and Grill for refeshments with scantilly clad "guards" as servers.  Imagine the possibilities.


I like how you think.


I would chip in!
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 3:58:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By BobCole:
Originally Posted By TnHawk-45:

While there have been escapes from the Prison itself, NO inmate has ever made it out of the county.  When the escape siren went off everybody in the county showed up with their guns and dogs and had a great time on the 'hunt'.  


I've heard but cannot confirm that there was/is a $500 bounty for a local capturing an escaped convict. True or not?  


True, but most there did it because it was FUN and sort of total community event/outing.

One assistant Commissioner of Corrections thought all the talk about the county there being anti Black was so much BS.  He decided to test it by taking a WHITE secretary there with him for an 'inspection'.  The asst Commissioner was Black.  We had to send a Tact team from old Main Prison along with one of the TACT teams from Debarry there to get them BOTH out safely as NONE of the staff from Brush would guarentee their safety leaving the facility.

When these same two teams went there to aid with the search for James Earl Ray they took their Black team members.  When they arrived they were told they were not needed and NOT to come back if they brought 'ALL' their team members of 'color'.

Closing Brushy has been a LONG time coming as most Tn Governors did not have what it took to close it as they ALL owed the wrong people.  Evidently the current Gov does NOT owe the wrong folks.

Take my word on it, NOTHING GOOD could be made of the institution.  BTW ALL the State Buildings used to get their coal from there when they were heated by coal.  Each inmate assigned to the mines was required to dig a ton of coal a day or would be beaten.  This beating was accomplished by tieing a prisoner face down on a bench stripped and hit by a 6 inch wide leather strap attached to a wooden handle.  This was used in ALL the prisons until the late 1970's.

The hills shown behind the old main building on both sides is honeycombed with mine shafts.

If you think all this was wrong, do not even get some of the old staff at the various State Mental Hospitals talk.

Then there are the GHOSTS!
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 5:14:58 PM EDT


True, but most there did it because it was FUN and sort of total community event/outing.

One assistant Commissioner of Corrections thought all the talk about the county there being anti Black was so much BS.  He decided to test it by taking a WHITE secretary there with him for an 'inspection'.  The asst Commissioner was Black.  We had to send a Tact team from old Main Prison along with one of the TACT teams from Debarry there to get them BOTH out safely as NONE of the staff from Brush would guarentee their safety leaving the facility.

When these same two teams went there to aid with the search for James Earl Ray they took their Black team members.  When they arrived they were told they were not needed and NOT to come back if they brought 'ALL' their team members of 'color'.

Closing Brushy has been a LONG time coming as most Tn Governors did not have what it took to close it as they ALL owed the wrong people.  Evidently the current Gov does NOT owe the wrong folks.

Take my word on it, NOTHING GOOD could be made of the institution.  BTW ALL the State Buildings used to get their coal from there when they were heated by coal.  Each inmate assigned to the mines was required to dig a ton of coal a day or would be beaten.  This beating was accomplished by tieing a prisoner face down on a bench stripped and hit by a 6 inch wide leather strap attached to a wooden handle.  This was used in ALL the prisons until the late 1970's.

The hills shown behind the old main building on both sides is honeycombed with mine shafts.
If you think all this was wrong, do not even get some of the old staff at the various State Mental Hospitals talk.

Then there are the GHOSTS!


Sounds like the perfect hideout with pre-built fortress when 2012 comes!  
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 6:54:30 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Durka-Durka:


True, but most there did it because it was FUN and sort of total community event/outing.

One assistant Commissioner of Corrections thought all the talk about the county there being anti Black was so much BS.  He decided to test it by taking a WHITE secretary there with him for an 'inspection'.  The asst Commissioner was Black.  We had to send a Tact team from old Main Prison along with one of the TACT teams from Debarry there to get them BOTH out safely as NONE of the staff from Brush would guarentee their safety leaving the facility.

When these same two teams went there to aid with the search for James Earl Ray they took their Black team members.  When they arrived they were told they were not needed and NOT to come back if they brought 'ALL' their team members of 'color'.

Closing Brushy has been a LONG time coming as most Tn Governors did not have what it took to close it as they ALL owed the wrong people.  Evidently the current Gov does NOT owe the wrong folks.

Take my word on it, NOTHING GOOD could be made of the institution.  BTW ALL the State Buildings used to get their coal from there when they were heated by coal.  Each inmate assigned to the mines was required to dig a ton of coal a day or would be beaten.  This beating was accomplished by tieing a prisoner face down on a bench stripped and hit by a 6 inch wide leather strap attached to a wooden handle.  This was used in ALL the prisons until the late 1970's.

The hills shown behind the old main building on both sides is honeycombed with mine shafts.
If you think all this was wrong, do not even get some of the old staff at the various State Mental Hospitals talk.

Then there are the GHOSTS!


Sounds like the perfect hideout with pre-built fortress when 2012 comes!  


It does present possibilities.
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 5:39:53 AM EDT
Originally Posted By ABNAK:
Troublemakers went there, right? That douche Paul Reid was sent there from Death Row because he was acting up.



I would imagine either troublemakers and/or escape risk prisoners were sent there. It damn sure is in the middle of no-where. While *I* might be able to hike thru the mountains to get somewhere, I doubt I could do it while tracking dogs were baying on my trail...............    
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 5:42:12 AM EDT
Originally Posted By urikagold:
I want it!  Would make a great training facility/airsoft park/paintball park.  Bar and Grill for refeshments with scantilly clad "guards" as servers.  Imagine the possibilities.



While a good idea, keep in mind this place is miles away from any decent sized town. I would also imagine there's a slew of code upgrades that need to be done baased on my eyeballing the place from outside the main gate. No telling how much asbestos is in those old bldgs either.

But don't let me discourage you from sending the State your application to take the place over & run it!  
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 5:46:11 AM EDT
Originally Posted By TnHawk-45:

Then there are the GHOSTS!



I asked the guard about that & he laughed & said "no". I would imagine there would be some unhappy souls who've died on or in the prison thru the years.

I did know about the coal mines & we drove up to a couple of them but I refused to go in. God knows how dangerous the roofs are in those things these days!

Got any more stories?  
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 9:03:27 AM EDT
Originally Posted By BobCole:
Originally Posted By TnHawk-45:

Then there are the GHOSTS!



I asked the guard about that & he laughed & said "no". I would imagine there would be some unhappy souls who've died on or in the prison thru the years.

I did know about the coal mines & we drove up to a couple of them but I refused to go in. God knows how dangerous the roofs are in those things these days!

Got any more stories?  


The 'ghosts' are at the old DeBarry and the old Main Prison I know of.  Most of the folks on 'staff' currently do not (or allowed) to talk about the possibility of ghosts.  There were 'rumors' of an "Brubaker" type graveyard both at the Old Main Prison and beneath D Building at the old DeBarry from when it was part of the mental institution.

As to the suitability of the old Brushy for anything, you need to know that it took 200+ of the inmates assigned there just to do the needed daily chores and upkeep.  NONE of the Prisons could run without inmate labor.  Even the old Girls correction facility at Tullahoma that corrections uses as an training academy uses inmates.  They are trustees, but they are inmates!

Link Posted: 7/2/2012 5:02:49 PM EDT
Originally Posted By TnHawk-45:

The 'ghosts' are at the old DeBarry and the old Main Prison I know of.  Most of the folks on 'staff' currently do not (or allowed) to talk about the possibility of ghosts.  There were 'rumors' of an "Brubaker" type graveyard both at the Old Main Prison and beneath D Building at the old DeBarry from when it was part of the mental institution.



I can believe DeBarry being haunted. I used to live not far from there & often walked close to the bldg. I'd swear I'd feel a weird "vibe" coming off that bldg, almost like a The Shining moment. And no, I'm not one who normally believes that sort of stuff.
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 6:33:24 PM EDT
I didn't either until I did a training sesson for the third shift one week and I spent a bunch of time in D Bldg.  It is the one fathest from the parking lot.

Building is BAD JU JU!!!!!
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 7:18:49 PM EDT
Bob, I'm afraid I've got to sit this one out.  Prison history is not one of my areas!  

David
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 5:09:18 AM EDT
Originally Posted By DavidLewis:
Bob, I'm afraid I've got to sit this one out.  Prison history is not one of my areas!  

David




Son, I am dissapoint............................    
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